- Farmland Preservation
2023 APPLICATION PERIOD
FARMLAND PRESERVATION PROGRAM
The Washington County Agricultural Land Preservation Board (WCALPB) is currently accepting applications for the 2024 calendar year. The deadline for all applications is September 30, 2023. The Agricultural Land Preservation Program is a state and county-run program that purchases development rights from landowners to protect farmland for future agricultural production.
The farmland tract must meet the following criteria for eligibility:
- Located in a duly recorded Agricultural Security Area consisting of 500 acres or more.
- Contiguous acreage of at least 50 acres; or contiguous acres of at least 10 acres and is either utilized for a crop unique to the area; or contiguous acres of at least 10 acres and contiguous to a previously preserved farm.
- Contain at least 50% of soils which are available for agricultural production and are of Land Capability Classes I – IV, as defined by the Soil Surveys published by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.
- Contain the greater of 50% or 10 acres of harvested cropland, pasture, or grazing land.
- The entire parcel as identified on the county assessment maps must be submitted. The landowner is permitted to withhold up to five acres at the time of application, to provide for future home sites.
- The applicant must exhibit good land stewardship, including but not limited to, the use of conservation and best land management practices. A conservation plan must be submitted with the Landowner Application.
Landowners retain private ownership of the property and may still use, lease, or sell the property. Any new owner must abide by the terms of the easement, which limits subdivision, non-agricultural development, and other uses inconsistent with commercial agriculture.
Applications may be obtained from the Washington County Planning Commission, or from the Washington County Website, https://www.washington.pa.us/173/Farmland-Preservation.
For more information, contact Caroline Sinchar at 724-228-6811 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Completed applications should be submitted to:
Washington County Planning Commission
100 W. Beau Street, Suite 701
Washington, PA 15301
Agricultural Conservation Easements
Established in 1994, the Washington County Agricultural Land Preservation Program, also known as the farmland preservation program, purchases agricultural easements on productive farms in Washington County. Landowners retain private ownership of the property and may still use, lease, or sell the property. Any new owner shall abide by the terms of the easement.
AGRICULTURAL LAND PRESERVATION BOARD (ALPB)
The ALPB is a seven-member board appointed by the Washington County Commissioners. Current board members are Bill Iams, Chairman; Bob O’Brien, Vice Chairman; Jeremy Matinko, Treasurer; Bill Paxton; Wayne Hunnell; Earl Sadler; and Rich Shriver.
Funding for the program comes from both the County and State. The total interest collected from the previous year’s County Clean and Green Rollback Tax Penalties is to be used for easement purchase or for monitoring and enforcement, or for conservation planning. The Washington County Commissioners certified $34,865.35 on January 19, 2023, and this amount was presented as the County’s contribution to receive a match from the State. The remainder of the funding comes from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through cigarette taxes, the Environmental Stewardship Fund, and other sources which will be announced at the Stare Agricultural Land Preservation Board Meeting on February 23, 2023.
As of January 2023, there are 47 farms. totaling 7,200 acres, preserved in Washington County through the Washington County Agricultural Land Preservation Program. In Pennsylvania, there are 6,148 preserved farms in 58 participating counties: 619,191 acres total.
HOW TO APPLY
To apply for an agricultural conservation easement:
- Read the Washington County Farmland Preservation Policies and Bylaws Document
- Download the application for the 2023 Agricultural Conservation Easement